Sunday, January 16, 2011

Unintentional Seduction

Mention the word "seduction," and tawdry images from the Victoria's Secret window at the mall or television shows like Desperate Housewives might come to your mind. However, despite how the term is normally used, seduction need not be sexual.

A person can be seduced into doing any number of actions--theft, gossip, idolatry, murder. They could be seduced by someone's fraudulent scheme or even seduced to participate in a particular lifestyle.

While we may consider ourselves too savvy to be duped by most who would try to seduce us into wrong actions, we rarely think that we could be the seducer.

Lately, I've been stuck in the annals of the kings, studying the last few men God allowed upon the throne before sending Babylon to take Judah into exile. One of the last kings was actually the worst of the worst.

Before God took him to the woodshed of captivity, King Manasseh did everything and anything he could to go against God. In Jerusalem's holy temple, he erected altars to false gods and placed their carved images within its walls. He "made his sons pass through the fire...practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists" (2 Chron. 33:6).

It seems if there were a false god to worship, Manasseh did just that, violating all God's commands in the process.

The problem, though, wasn't just that Manasseh's soul was at stake. Scripture says it was much worse in that his actions led an entire nation to sin: "Thus Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jeruslem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel" (2 Chron. 33:9, my italics).

In 2 Kings, the author writes, "Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the sons of Israel" (21:9, my italics).

The words "misled" from Chronicles and "seduced" from Kings are the same Hebrew word "ta'ah" defined as: "to err, to wander, and to go astray. The meaning of this Hebrew word primarily rests in the notion of wandering about...Figuratively, it is used in reference to one who is intoxicated...Most often, however, it refers to erring or being misled in a moral or religious sense" (Baker & Carpenter 1238).

How apt a description--the seducer's actions intoxicating those around him, causing them to make poor decisions, too.

In other words, Manasseh lived a life that said, "Look at me! I can disobey God and get away with it! All those curses and consequences!? No big deal! God didn't mean us!"

The people watched, were intoxicated by the thought of sinning without consequences, and were led into sin themselves.

The apostle Paul would have described Manasseh as a man who "suppress[ed] the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18).

Yes, every person is responsible for his/her own actions; as Paul said, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20).

But even still, I don't want to stand before God on judgment day and have Him show me a sea of faces whom I seduced to sin...whom I misled into hell.

With our every action that goes against God's Word...

With our every sin that "seems" to go unpunished...

When we live lives that disobey God, we unintentionally seduce others.

How terrifying to think that right now, we could be misleading others--our neighbors, our family, our friends, our children, our spouses--into mirrored paths of sin.

*Baker and Carpenter. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. AMG, 2003.

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